MYSTIC, Conn., Oct. 31, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Mystic Aquarium is poised to conduct critical, conservation-focused research in anticipation of the arrival of five beluga whales born at a facility in Canada. The transfer is awaiting approval from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service.
"The imported whales will become part of our world-class beluga research program, which increases general knowledge about the species and helps produce favorable outcomes for endangered wild beluga populations," said Stephen M. Coan, Ph.D., and President and CEO of Sea Research Foundation, which operates Mystic Aquarium.
The aquarium currently has three beluga whales living in the largest outdoor beluga whale habitat in the United States, designed specifically for the care of the species. Coan said the Canadian whales will be under the care of Mystic Aquarium's highly-trained animal care specialists and scientists.
"Mystic will be a much better home for the whales," said Coan. "These whales are born in human care and would not survive if released in the wild. The best option for them is to live in Mystic's world-class outdoor habitat where they will be a part of groundbreaking research to help protect wild beluga populations."
Furthermore, Coan noted that at Mystic Aquarium animal care professionals train the whales to voluntarily provide biological samples using non-invasive techniques; providing information that aids in the management and recovery of threatened beluga populations across the globe. The aquarium setting, coupled with our unique research expertise, provides the ability to conduct studies under controlled conditions, enabling the development of research tools that would otherwise not be possible.
Mystic Aquarium's research team has pioneered non-invasive data collection techniques to monitor stress levels, reproductive status, nutritional metabolic status and immune status of our resident beluga whales. The results are highly beneficial for monitoring the health of belugas under human care, and are also used to help understand the health and reproductive status of wild populations.
It is logistically difficult, far more expensive and extremely challenging to conduct comprehensive research on wild belugas, underscoring the importance of the research underway at Mystic Aquarium.
"Our whales help us to discover new realities about belugas and transfer that knowledge to monitor and improve the health of the species in the wild," Coan said.
Dale Wolbrink, Sr. Director, Public Relations
(860) 572-5955 ext. 338
SOURCE Mystic Aquarium